ONE of the most hotly anticipated dramas of 2021 is rooted in a real life story of tragedy, but also strong friendship.
It's A Sin – perhaps the first British drama to document the early days of the HIV pandemic in this country is the brainchild of acclaimed showrunner – Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, Queer as Folk).
The Channel 4 drama follows four young friends in the 1980s who watch their worlds unravel over the first decade of the HIV pandemic.
Starring Keeley Hawes, Stephen Fry and Years and Years singer Olly Alexander, among many emerging actors, Davies drew on his own experiences as a young man in London to tell the story.
"A lot of it is based on myself, people I know and stories that people have told me from over the decades," he said.
"Just bits and odds from all over the place."
How I Met Your Mother's Neil Patrick Harris stars in the five part drama as a tailor andDavies actually dated a man who trained as a tailor then "went to New York to fit lords and ladies".
The events in It's A Sin "fits my life, literally" explained Davies.
"I was 18 in 1981, a lot of my friends went to live in London… and moved into a big flat in Hamptead and they called it the 'Pink Palace'," he said.
"A lot of the dialogue was there, the jokes and their rhythms and stuff like that."
Davies also guessed "there will be a few friends i haven't seen for years who will be watching it going, 'this is slightly familiar'."
He added: "Some of them of course are no longer with us, some of them passed away because HIV came along, so it's nice to remember them like this.
"I'm very lucky in my job that I can do this."
Even for others working on the drama who might either be too young or not directly impacted by HIV, got to understand more about the pandemic thanks to this show.
Producer Nicola Shindler remembered the fear mongering around HIV in the 1980s, including the grim 'iceberg' TV advert released by the Department of Health.
But It's A Sin helped her understand so much more about HIV and how it changed the lives of so many young people.
"Russell's writing made me understand for the first time, that it's not the end result which is the tragedy, it's the lives beforehand," Shindler explained.
"It's just the joy of these young kids who are 18 or 19,, who had everything to live for, who just wanted fun and this awful event, not event, this awful virus happened to them and happened to lots of their friends and families.
"What Russell's done is made sure that you understand the characters first and love them first before this impacts on them and I think that's really key for a younger audience."
Davies warned that the HIV pandemic was far from over and hoped It's A Sin served as a reminder that stigma and discrimination still existed.
"My friend James was trying two adopt to children recently, he's HIV positive, three times they brought that up in court and that's illegal," he recalled.
"It's nothing to do with the status of a parent, nothing to do with his role in adoption whatsoever. But three times the social workers kept on bringing it up and the lawyers were literally saying 'stop it, stop it, stop it'.
"False facts and the ridiculous information that was running riot in the 80s is still running riot now. In fact, fuelled even more by the internet."
It's A Sin premieres on Friday 22nd January at 9pm on Channel 4.
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